So, I'm hanging out in my cool temporary pad in Iowa City, home of the super cool Iowa Summer Writers' Festival. Good times. I'm watching TV. The place I'm renting has free HBO—also good times. I flip through the channels. I run into a Janeane Garofalo stand-up show on HBO2. Janeane Garofalo is one of my favorite actresses. Sweet.

But then I hear what she's saying. "Well, I guess I consider myself secular. I mean, I respect people who are religious, but why is it that I can respect them, but when I speak my mind, they think they can stand on the mountaintops and scream at me to shut up?"

"If you think about it, all conflicts in the world are in some way related to religion. The Taliban. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And even if they aren't about the religion, exactly, the seed for the violence was planted in these books, these great fictional works of literature. Oh, you don't need to applaud that."

And then she goes on to say some things I can't print here.

Oh Janeane. I thought we were friends. Why did you have to do that to me? You're so funny, why did you have to hurt my feelings?

But the thing is, when I really think about it, what she says make sense (well, except for the fiction thing). I mean, aren't most religions the cause for strife and warfare today? Isn't it true that the world is flush with intolerant, hypocritical religious people?

The answer is a resounding yes. And man, that hurts! Here I am, thinking I'm on the good side. And a simple stand-up show by Janeane has brought my world crashing down around me. Oh, HBO, you'll be the death of me yet!

We are all desperately looking for answers. We are all confused. So many of us "religious" folk just don't act the way we should. Think of the sex scandals in the church. The riots in Jerusalem. Terrorism. Man, we've just about caused the world to fall down around us, and all in the name of the G‑d who told us to do the opposite. Crazy!

What's a simple Jewish boy to do? "Throw his hands up in the air and give up," it seems like Janeane's trying to tell me. Or maybe look to science as some sort of alternative to religion. Okay, I understand the logic.

But something seems missing to me. It seems a little empty. It's hard for me to put my finger on it, I'll be honest. Part of me is tempted to just say what about hope and faith and all that good stuff? But it's not enough. I know it.

Oh, Janeane.

And so I try to think of what I would say to her if she were here. If we could have a nice sit down chat. A frank talk over some tea. First, I'd have to tell her that she hurt my feelings. I think she would understand.

But how do I explain that feeling in me? That feeling I know is real. How can I share the understanding that these books are so much more than stories? That the G‑d she sees as a ridiculous invention can actually complement science?

All I see is her giving me a sarcastic smile, finishing her tea, and getting up to leave.

Oh Janeane, you broke my heart again.

Through my pain, I'm seeing an answer. I'm seeing the only way to respond to her—the only way to react to the Ricky Dawkins crowd that feels justifiably slighted by the religious folks that surround us all.

I need to be the answer. I need to show that not all of us people who ridiculously, blindly follow those wacky words in that crazy book are bad folks. Some of us even use our beliefs to create a positive world. A world that could not exist without us. An elevated world. Being a role model is the only real answer to any real question.

Janeane, you broke my heart. But I forgive you. You see, I'm a role model now.